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//Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions2018-08-16T19:47:09+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

AMPUTATION FAQs

What is an amputation?

An amputation is generally the loss of a finger, hand, arm, toe, foot, or leg. Victims of traumatic amputations are at risk of serious complications, such as bleeding, infection, shock, and/or death.

Traumatic amputations, is the severing of a portion or all of a body part due to an accident. This can be a life-threatening and life-changing event, which may cause a complete amputation, where a limb or appendage is completely severed from the body, or a partial amputation, where some soft tissue remains at the site. Amputations can also occur due to a catastrophic injury, disease, or infections that will not heal properly unless the affected area is surgically removed. A severe injury, such as a car accident or severe burn, can cause tissue death by destroying blood vessels and if the limb is not removed an infection can spread through the body and cause death.

If you have suffered a serious injury, such as an amputated limb or appendage, as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

What can cause an amputation?

Many accidents can cause a traumatic amputation to occur such as:
  • Auto accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective products
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Fire, Explosion, and Electrocution Accidents
  • Industrial accidents

Amputations can result from improper machinery maintenance, faulty employee training, or unsafe working conditions.

Limbs and appendages can be severed by machinery such as:
  • Drill Presses
  • Conveyor belts
  • Guillotine shears
  • Meat grinders
  • Mechanical power presses
  • Metal-forming machines
  • Milling machines
  • Printing presses

What to do if someone has a limb or appendage injury?

If someone experiences an injury that appears to result in a severed or partially severed limb or appendage, please seek medical attention at once. Assure the victim’s airway passage is clear and perform CPR if necessary. If possible, stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the injured area and elevating the injured part. Save any severed limb or appendage by wrapping it in a clean and damp cloth, putting it in a plastic bag, and then immersing the bag in cold or ice water. It is important to keep the part away from heat. Bring the part to the hospital to give to the medical professional who arrives at the scene. Make sure to stay with the injured victim until medical assistance arrives.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What emotional injuries can be caused by amputations?

Amputations can cause severe disability and loss in quality of living. They can cause emotional and psychological injuries. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depressing, and grief can all be associated with the psychological injuries of amputations

Amputation Data & Statistics

In the United States, there are approximately 1.7 million people living with an amputations and that number grows by an estimated 135,000 new yearly amputations. The peak age for limb loss is 41-70 years old. 22% of amputations are trauma related and 68.6% of those are amputations of the upper limbs.

How to diagnose a traumatic amputation?*

Diagnosing a traumatic brain injury is simple if the limb or appendage is severed completely. However, if there is a partial amputation, it must be determined if any part of the affected limb or appendage can be saved. If an amputation occurs, the victim’s vital signs must be monitored very carefully to observe for any signs of shock.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What are the types of amputation?

Upper Limb Amputations:
  • Amputation of individual digits- When a victim loses any of their digits, their grasping ability is affected.
  • Multiple digit amputations- When more than one finger is lost, surgeons will attempt to construct muscles to assist with grasping.
  • Metacarpal amputation- loss of entire hand with wrist still intact; no ability to grasp
  • Wrist disarticulation- loss of the hand at the level of wrist joint
  • Forearm (transradial) amputation- classified by the length of the remaining partial forearm stump. The length affects the pronation ability, or the ability to move the forearm.
  • Elbow disarticulation- removal of entire forearm at elbow; victim will retain the ability to hold weight.
  • Above-elbow (transhumeral) amputation- amputation anywhere above the elbow and below the shoulder.
  • Shoulder disarticulation- the shoulder is removed, however the shoulder blade remains; the collarbone may or may not be removed
  • Forequarter amputation- removal of shoulder blade and collarbone
Lower Limb Amputations:
  • Foot Amputations- amputation of any part of foot such as mid-tarsal or toe amputation; may affect balance and walking.
  • Ankle disarticulation (Syme amputation) – amputation of entire ankle.
  • Below-knee (transtibial) amputation- amputation above the ankle but below the knee; victim may have difficulty putting weight on limb.
  • Knee-bearing amputation- complete removal of the lower leg.
  • Above-knee (transfemoral) amputation- amputation at thigh.
  • Hip disarticulation- removing the entire leg bone.

If you have suffered a serious injury, such as an amputated limb or appendage, as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact the personal injury attorneys of Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

BURN INJURY FAQs

Burn injury data & statistics

There are approximately 10,000 pediatric burn injuries in the United States each year. In the United States, about 2.4 million burn injuries are reported annually. Of that 2.4 million, 20,000 have major burns involving at least 25% of their total body surface and 8,000 to 12,000 of patients with burns will die. Approximately one million will sustain substantial or permanent disabilities resulting from their burn injuries. Burns are one of the most expensive, catastrophic injuries to treat. For example, a burn to 30% of total body area can cost as much as $200,000.

We have represented many people throughout the country who have suffered from severe burn injuries, achieving record setting results for our clients. The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have the experience to fully investigate instances causing burn injuries, including obtaining fire marshal and other official reports; hiring and working with medical and explosion experts; and pursuing aggressive discovery during litigation in preparation for trial.

How to treat a burn injury?

First Aid for Minor Burns (First Degree):
  • Run cool water over the burned area or soak it in a cool water bath for five minutes, if the skin is not broken.  If burn occurred in cold atmosphere, DO NOT apply water.
  • Reassure victim and take care to keep them calm.
  • Cover burn with a sterile non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Protect the burn from pressure or friction.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication can be used to reduce pain.
  • Minor burns will often heal without seeking further treatment.
First Aid for Severe Burns (Second & Third Degree):
  • DO NOT remove burned clothing; however take care to ensure that the victim is not in contact with burning or smoldering material.
  • Make sure victim is breathing. If victim is not breathing or airway is blocked, then open the airway and perform CPR.
  • If victim is breathing, cover the burn with a cool moist sterile bandage or clean cloth. DO NOT use a blanket or towel; DO NOT apply ointments and DO NOT break blisters.
  • Elevate burned area and protect the burn from pressure or friction.
  • Take steps to prevent shock.
  • Continue to monitor victim’s vital signs.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What can cause a burn injury?

There are many potential causes for burn injuries such as:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Chemical burns
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective candles, heaters, and fireplaces
  • Defective products
  • Defective vehicles
  • Electrical accidents
  • Fireworks injuries
  • Flammable liquid fuel explosions
  • Gas explosions/fires
  • Gasoline spills
  • Industrial accidents
  • Lighters and matches
  • Propane explosions/fires
  • Radiation accidents
  • Scalding water
  • Work injuries

What are the types of burns?

There are several degrees of burns that are classified by their depth, including: first, second, third, and fourth degree burns, as well as inhalation burns.

First Degree Burns:

Red and sensitive to touch. The skin will appear blanched when light pressure is applied. Involves minimal tissue damage to the skin surface (epidermis). First degree burns affect the outer-layer of the skin causing pain, redness, and swelling. An example of a first degree burn is a sunburn.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Second Degree Burns:

Second degree burns affect the outer-layer (epidermis) and the under lying layer of skin (dermis) causing redness, pain, blisters, and swelling. These burns affect the sweat glands and hair follicles. A second degree burn must be treated promptly because swelling and decreased blood flow can result in the burn becoming a third-degree burn.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Third Degree Burns:

Affects the outer layer (epidermis), underlying layer of skin (dermis) and the innermost and thickest layer of skin (hypodermis).  This burn causes charred skin and a translucent white color, with coagulated vessels visible below the skin’s surface. Healing from third-degree burns is very slow because of the tissue being destroyed.

Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Shock (pale, clammy skin, weakness, bluish lips and finger nails)
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

Fourth Degree Burns:

Fourth Degree burns are the most serious burns—full thickness burns that affect every layer of the skin and the structures below the skin, such as tendons, bone, ligaments and muscles. These are not typically chronically painful burns because the nerves have been destroyed. Fourth degree burns always require surgery or grafting to close the wounds, often resulting in permanent disability, with lengthy rehabilitation times. These burns can be life-threatening and may require amputation.

Inhalation Injuries:

  • Damage from heat inhalation: Lung burns occur if you have directly breathed in hot air or a flame source or the heat was forced into you with high pressure. Thermal injury causes damage to the upper airways however, the secondary airway may be injured is steam is inhaled.
  • Damage from systemic toxins: Systemic toxins affect people’s ability to absorb oxygen. Systemic toxins cause a person to act confused or fall unconscious in the case of an enclosed fire. Toxic poisoning can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain. The effects of Carbon Monoxide poisoning may be unknown, with no symptoms, until the victim falls into a coma.
  • Damage from smoke inhalation: Smoke intoxication is commonly hidden by visible injuries as a result of a fire. 60% to 80% of fatalities from burn injuries can be attributed to smoke inhalation, which is not readily apparent. Inhalation injury indicators usually appear within 2-48 hours after the burn occurred. Such indications are:
  • Burns around face or neck
  • Fainting
  • Fire or smoke in a closed area
  • Nasal hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes singed
  • Respiratory distress or upper airway obstruction
  • Soot around mouth or nose

Radiation Burns:

Radiation burns are caused by X-rays, radiation therapy for cancer treatment, tanning beds, or malfunctioning halide light bulbs.

Electrical Burns:

Electrical burns can have many causes, such as high voltage wires, damaged electrical cords, and electrical outlets. Internal injuries that result from an electrical burn are not always apparent.

Chemical Burns:

Chemical burns often are associated with industrial accidents and occur because of chemical compounds such as cleaning products, battery fluid, pool chemicals, and drain cleaners. Hydrofluoric acid can eat to the bone before the severity burn injury become evident.

How to diagnose a burn injury?

It is important to determine how bad a burn is by how hot the skin gets and how long the burn lasts as well as the location because the skin thickness, water and oil content, fat, and the number of blood vessels varies.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

How to identify the severity of a burn injury?

To determine the severity of an injury, the patient’s age, size and depth of the burn, and the location of the burn must be determined. A “Rule of Nines” chart is used to determine the total body surface area (TBSA) that has been burned. This chart splits the body into sections that represent nine percent of the body surface area. A separate chart is used for children because their head and neck is larger than adults and the limbs are smaller than those of adults.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

CATASTROPHIC INJURY FAQs

What is a catastrophic injury?

Catastrophic injuries are life-changing injuries that often occur suddenly and without warning. These injuries have long-term implications which sometimes become evident months or even years after an accident. Catastrophic injuries often damage the central nervous system and in turn may damage other bodily systems.

Victims of catastrophic injuries may never be able to work again and are likely to require long-term medical care. The physical and emotional pain of a catastrophic injury is immense, and the financial consequences can be overwhelming as well.

Catastrophic injury victims and their families should work with an attorney experienced with complex injury litigation. The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have over three decades of expertise in complex catastrophic injury litigation. If you would like to speak with one of our injury attorneys or schedule a free consultation, please call our Boston law office at 617-742-1900.

How to treat a catastrophic injury

Victims must receive proper medical care for a catastrophic injury. After the initial medical care, they may need to visit the doctor frequently or have follow-up surgeries. An attorney can work with medical care professionals to determine the potential future medical needs of the victim. This will ensure that victims of the negligence are fully compensated for past, present and future damages.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What are the types of catastrophic injuries?

Examples of catastrophic injuries:

  • Brain injuries
  • Burns
  • Death
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of eyesight
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of limbs (amputations)
  • Multiple bone injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Quadriplegia
  • Serious head trauma
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

What causes a catastrophic injury?

Common Causes of Catastrophic injuries:

  • Car accidents
  • Consumer products
  • Drug/medications
  • Environmental disasters
  • Explosions
  • Falls
  • Fires
  • Industrial and construction accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Nautical accidents
  • Toxic exposure
  • Truck accidents
  • Workplace accidents

What damages can you recover after a catastrophic injury?

Damages Recovered for:

  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain
  • Permanent disability
  • Scarring
  • Suffering

DROWNING INJURY FAQs

What is drowning?

Drowning is a considerable public health concern because it is a significant cause of disability and death. Drowning is a process resulting in primary respiratory impairment from submersion in a liquid medium.

Massachusetts pool operators may be legally liable for any drowning-related injuries or deaths that occur due to safety and code violations.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or death due to a drowning accident, please contact the attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

What is dry-drowning?

Another form of drowning is dry-drowning which may occur, for example, when a person is submerged in icy water. The coldness of the water causes the larynx to spasm and results in a lack of oxygen in the body.

What is a submersion injury?

Near-drowning or submersion injury is the survival, at least temporarily, after suffocation by submersion in a liquid medium. The injuries occur when a person is submerged under water, attempts to breathe, and aspirates water or has laryngospasm without aspiration.

Drowning injury data & statistics

  • 1,500 drowning deaths involve children.
  • More than 8,000 deaths occur annually in the United States due to drowning.
  • Submersion-related injuries are the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

What are the classifications of a submersion incident?

  • Asymptomatic
  • Symptomatic
    • Altered level of consciousness
    • Altered vital signs
    • Anxious appearance
    • Dyspnea
    • Hypoxia
    • Metabolic acidosis
    • Neurological deficit
    • Tachypnea
  • Cardiopulmonary Arrest
    • Apnea
    • Asystole
    • Bradycardia
    • Immersion syndrome
    • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Obviously Dead
    • Apnea
    • Dependent lividity
    • No apparent CNS function
    • Normothermic with asystole
    • Rigor mortis

What are the causes of drowning?

  • Anxiety/ panic disorder
  • Drowning in Bathtub
  • Drowning in Ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans
  • Drowning in Residential swimming pools
  • Hypoglycemia/ diabetes
  • Inadequate fencing
  • Inadequate pool supervision
  • Inadequate safety training
  • Inadequate safety/ medical equipment
  • Myocardial infarction
  • No barrier between pool and home
  • Poor neuromuscular control
  • Seizure disorder
  • Unsafe pool equipment
  • Violations of safety standards/ regulations
  • Water sports

What injuries can result from a drowning incident?

  • Acidosis
  • Autonomic instability
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral edema
  • Cervical spine injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory problems
  • Multiorgan effects
  • Permanent loss of basic functioning
  • Prolonged hypoxemia

ELECTROCUTION INJURY FAQs

What is electrocution?

Electrocution, which can lead to death, is caused by any type of electric shock due to exposure to high voltage electricity. Small currents (70 mA –  700 mA) may cause fibrillation in the heart, which can be reversed with a defibrillator. Large currents (> 1 A) may cause permanent damage via burns, and cellular damage.

Factors that determine the extent and severity of an electrocution injury include:

  • Amount of voltage encountered
  • Duration of contact with current
  • Pathway of electricity through the body
  • Type of circuit
  • Type of current

How does electrocution happen?

In the Workplace: Electrocution in the workplace often occurs due to unsafe working conditions, or malfunctioning or defective machinery or tools.

In the Home: Electrocutions in the home often occur from malfunctioning or defective products, such as appliances, power tools, or medical devices. Children can be electrocuted by unsafe children’s products. Also, faulty installations or repairs could result in electrocution.

On someone else’s Property: Electrocution can happen anywhere that visitors are exposed to dangerous electricity in unexpected places.

What are the causes of electric shock or electrocution?

  • Accidental contact between metal and electricity. For example, this can occur from a ladder touching an exposed electrical current at a construction site.
  • Accidental contact with exposed electrical sources. This can occur due to contact with an appliance or wiring.
  • Electrical arc flashed from power lines
  • Faulty electrical wiring.
  • Lightning.
  • Products such as hair dryers, microwaves, and other electricity-powered items.
  • Unintentional or accidental contact with a power line. This can occur during a car accident or construction.
  • Unsafe commercial kitchen or industrial environment.

What are the common physical reactions to electrocution?

  • Brain and other nerve damage
  • Broken bones
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cataracts (loss of vision)
  • Changes in temperament or personality
  • Deformity at point of contact
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart fibrillation (fluttery muscular contractions that cause cardiac arrest)
  • Internal organ damage
  • Loss of cognitive abilities
  • Memory loss
  • Neuropathy (failure of nerve cells to function properly)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Permanent heart muscle damage
  • Renal failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Ruptured eardrums
  • Seizures
  • Severe burns
  • Spine injury
  • Unconsciousness
  • Weakness

What organ systems can be damaged by an electrocution injury?

Cardiovascular system injury:

Asystole, which is the lack of a cardiac rhythm or a “flatline”, or ventricular fibrillation, which is chaotic and useless fluttering of the ventricles, can occur due to an electrocution injury. These two rhythms are lethal and can result in death if not immediately treated.

Respiratory system injury:

The lungs are rarely damaged during electrocution because they do not conduct electricity well. Unfortunately, when the current passes through the chest and causes tetany of the chest muscles, this can cause respiratory arrest. Also, when electricity goes through the part of the brain that controls breathing, the victim may suffer respiratory arrest.

Central nervous system injury:

Head and spinal cold injuries mainly occur due to blunt trauma, and victims of electrocution largely fall from heights or are thrown from the source of the electricity. It is important that anyone who suffers from an electrocution be assumed to have a spinal cord injury unless otherwise determined. Long-term complications from electrocution to the central nervous system may include:

  • Damage to the peripheral nerves
  • Delayed spinal cord injuries
  • Psychiatric issues such as depression or anxiety
  • Seizures
Musculoskeletal system injury:

Due to extended tetany, damage to muscles may occur and cause rhabdomyolysis and kidney damage. Many injuries, such as fractures, burns, or trauma to organs may occur due to electrocution. Victims who fall or are thrown due to their electrocution must seek immediate attention from a trauma team.

Integumentary system:

The skin and soft tissues are often most affected due to electrocution. Severe burns must be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Electrocution data & statistics

Approximately 1000 fatalities and 3000 admissions to burn centers are due to electrical injuries annually. The most common age groups that suffer electrocution are toddlers and adolescents.

What is the treatment for electrocution injury?*

Survivors of electrocution may have a lengthy and painful road to recovery with overwhelming medical expenses, loss of wages, or permanent disability.

Any time a victim is electrocuted, medical attention must be sought immediately. If you or a loved one has been the victim of electric shock or electrocution due to another’s negligence or carelessness, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

*IN ALL INSTANCES, SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CARE.

Who is responsible for an electrocution injury?

There are various laws that can help a victim of electrocution or the victim’s family receive compensation. Such laws are:

  • Negligence and Personal Injury laws
  • Premises liability laws
  • Product liability laws
  • Workers compensation laws

Please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the best approach to obtaining compensation for electrocution injuries.

GENERAL PERSONAL INJURY FAQs

How do I select the right personal injury lawyer?

You should look for an injury attorney with the most experience and the best qualifications for your needs. There are many personal injury lawyers, however very few attorneys deal almost exclusively with catastrophic injuries,medical malpractice, or wrongful death cases. When you first speak with an attorney about your case, make sure the attorney is fully qualified to take on your specific legal problem. After the initial phone conversation or E-Mail contact, you should meet with the attorney personally to make sure that you feel comfortable with the attorney and the law firm. Swartz & Swartz, P.C., offers a free initial consultation so that our potential clients can get to know us, and we can assure them that their case will be handled by an experienced trial attorney, with the resources to take on litigation involving not only individuals, but also major corporations and insurance companies.

How much is my personal injury claim worth?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by new clients, however significant investigation is required in order to properly assess liability and damages, which will assist in providing an answer. There are many factors involved in determining the value of a given case. For example, a “medical end result” must be reached in personal injury cases before an attorney can even begin to value a case. The “medical end result” is the point in time when a medical professional determines that the injury is fully evaluated, and judgments on the past and future effects of the injury can be made. After the medical end result is reached, attorneys must look at several other factors, including the type of injury, length of treatment, permanency of the injury, length of time of disability, scarring, loss of consortium, and any lost wages due to the injury. Swartz & Swartz, P.C. evaluates all such factors, to ensure that our clients understand the damages portion of their claims.

How long will my personal injury claim take?

An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you the approximate time frame for resolution of your case. A “medical end result” should be reached, when possible, before beginning the negotiation process. A medical end result is determined by a medical professional, and is the point in time when additional medical care is no longer expected to achieve significant improvement. This permits an evaluation to be performed, taking into consideration past and future effects of the injuries. After the medical end result has been reached, the length of the case may vary depending on the complexity of the case, though it is not unnatural for litigation, especially complex cases with serious personal injuries, to take several years to pursue. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., we provide a free consultation, when we can offer insight into the time it will take to pursue your particular legal claim.

How much experience does Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have in handling personal injury cases?

The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. collectively have many decades of litigation experience involving personal injury claims. Our scores of record setting cases have earned us a national reputation as among the best personal injury attorneys in New England, and across the United States. Our attorneys are highly respected in the field of personal injury law, earning recognitions such as Lawyers Weekly’s “Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year,” US News’ “Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms,” “AV Best Peer Review” rating from Martindale- Hubbell, and many others. Swartz & Swartz, P.C. has substantial experience in civil litigation, including personal injurywrongful death and medical malpractice cases.

What if I do not want to take my case to court?

Clients work with their attorneys to determine the best course of action to achieve the best result possible, whether by settlement or going to trial. The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. can advise you regarding what they believe to be the most beneficial course of action for you. At the free initial consultation that we have with our clients, we can provide advice on what options might be best for each particular situation.

In what areas of law does Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have experience?

The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. handle many types of personal injury cases for our injured clients, including litigation involving burn injuries, brain injuries, car accidentsmedical malpracticewrongful death and other catastrophic injuries. Some of our major successes have been in the following practice areas:

  • Fire, explosion, and electrocution injuries
  • Automotive defect injuries
  • Toys and recreational product- related injuries
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product- related injuries
  • Construction and workplace injuries
  • Catastrophic injury or death

If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered any personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

What is a personal injury?

personal injury is a legal term which means any injury—physical, mental or emotional—to a person which was caused by someone’s negligence. Legal disputes involving personal injuries arise when one party is injured in an accident, and someone else—an individual, corporation, or other entity—is responsible for that injury. Personal injury cases can be resolved prior to filing suit, during the course of litigation after a lawsuit is filed, or by going to trial. At trial, a jury determines the outcome after the litigants present their cases.

What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure of an individual or entity (such as a corporation) to act in a way that a reasonably prudent person would behave under the same circumstances. Plaintiffs in civil cases have the burden of proof to show that a defendant breached the applicable standard of care (negligence), and that he or she suffered damages as a result. If an injury occurs due to the negligence of someone else, the injured person can recover damages to compensate for his or her injury. Swartz & Swartz, P.C. handles many types of cases involving personal injury arising from negligence of a third party. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone’s negligence, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

How long do I have to pursue my personal injury claim?

Each state has a “statute of limitations,” which is the period of time allotted for pursuing a remedy after a wrongful act. If the “statute of limitations” passes, the person loses his or her right to file a claim seeking damages, unless an exception applies. For most personal injury cases in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is three years, that is, the injured person must file a suit against the responsible person or company before expiration of the three year period. Failure to do so may result in the claims being forever barred. There may also be shorter time periods involved to pursue justice, including notice requirements that can be as short as thirty days, or as long as two years. Moreover, sometimes the “discovery rule” may apply, which means that the injured person has a reasonable length of time to discover an injury, or what may have caused the injury, after the actions that caused the injury occurred. Regardless of your situation, it is critically important that you contact a civil litigation attorney immediately to confirm the time frame in which a suit must be filed, and to take steps to protect your rights, including preservation of evidence. If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation, including advice regarding the statutory period applicable to your specific claims, since different considerations apply to each individual case.

What can cause a wrongful death?

The circumstances that lead to wrongful death can be varied, including such incidents as drowning in pools, oceans or other bodies of water; caraircraft and other transportation accidentsmedical malpractice including negligent medical care and treatment by doctors and hospitals; gas and electrical explosions or fires;construction and workplace accidentsnursing home abuseproduct liability involving defective consumer or commercial products; and incidents relating to recreational vehicles such as ATVs and boats. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C. we have decades of experience helping families who have lost loved ones due to another’s negligence. If a loved one has died due to someone else’s negligence, please contact the wrongful death lawyers at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

 

PARALYSIS/PARAPLEGIA/QUADRIPLEGIA INJURY FAQs

What is Paralysis?

Paralysis is a loss or impairment of motor function in one or more muscle groups. Paralysis can be the loss of voluntary movement, such as in conditions of paraplegia or quadriplegia. The mechanism of paralysis is the interruption of one or more motor pathways at any point from the cerebrum to the muscle fiber. If you or a loved one has suffered paraplegia or quadriplegia due to someone else’s carelessness, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

What are the types of paralysis?

Quadriplegia/Tetraplegia: When a person has a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra, paralysis will affect the cervical spinal nerves resulting in the paralysis of all four limbs. Furthermore, the abdominal and chest muscles will be affected, which can cause weakened breathing and the inability to properly cough. Those who suffer from this paralysis are referred to as Quadriplegic or Tetraplegic.

Paraplegia: When a personal has a spinal cord injury below the first thoracic spinal nerve, he or she may suffer from Paraplegia. The severity of the paralysis can vary, from impairment of leg movement, to complete paralysis of the legs and abdomen up to approximately the nipple line. Paraplegics have full motion and use of the arms and hands. If an injury occurs to the Cauda Equina, which is a mass of nerves that fan out from the spinal cord between the first and second Lumbar region, the result is Paraplegia, but is referred to as Cauda Equina Syndrome injury. These nerves have the ability to grow again and recover function if they are not too badly damaged.

What are the levels of injury?

The level of injury, also known as a lesion, is the point in the spinal cord where the damage has occurred. This can be determined by counting the nerves from the top of the spine downwards. These nerves are grouped into four areas: the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral, i.e. the four sections of the spine. Damage to the spinal cord at these points determines how muscles, organs, and sensations will be affected. There are also two types of lesions: complete injury and an incomplete injury. A complete injury will cause a complete loss of muscle control and sensation below the level of the lesion. An incomplete injury will cause paralysis in only the muscles directly affected or impaired sensation. Identifying the level and type of lesion is important in determining the severity of the paralysis.

What are incomplete spinal cord injuries?

Anterior Cord Syndrome: when damage is towards the front of the spine. Can leave a victim with the loss or impaired ability to sense pain, temperature and touch sensations bellow their level of injury.

Central Cord Syndrome: when damage is in the center of the spinal cord. Can leave a victim with the loss of function in the arms, but some leg movement may be preserved.

Posterior Cord Syndrome: when the damage is towards the back of the spine. Can leave a victim with muscle power, pain and temperature sensation, however, he or she might have trouble coordinating movement of limbs.

What can cause paralysis?

Paralysis can be caused by spinal cord injuries incurred as the result of blunt trauma, automobile and boating accidents, falls, sports injuries, infection, gunshot wounds, or medical error, among other causes.

What can cause paraplegia?

The most common causes of paraplegia are diseases of the spinal cord, nerve roots, or peripheral nerves, hereditary causes, spinal tumors, and traumatic injury.

What can cause quadriplegia?

The most common causes of quadriplegia are injury to the brain or cervical spine, or diseases of the peripheral nerves, muscles, myoneural junctions, gray matter of the spinal cord, brainstem, or cerebrum.

What tests are done to test for paralysis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia?

  • X-Rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Electromyography
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

What is the treatment for Paraplegia?

The treatment of paraplegia is dependent on the cause of the paraplegia. If it is due to spinal cord injury, then it is necessary to decompress and stabilize the spine. Surgery can relieve pressure if needed. In all instances, immediate professional medical care is critical.

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What is the treatment for Quadriplegia?

The treatment of quadriplegia is dependent on the cause of the quadriplegia. If it is due to spinal cord injury, then the spine must be immobilized. Surgery can relieve pressure if needed. In all instances, immediate professional medical care is critical.

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What is the rehabilitation process for paraplegia or quadriplegia?

There is a lengthy rehabilitation process for quadriplegics or paraplegics. The durations of the rehabilitation are dictated by the degree of injury.

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Paralysis/Paraplegia/Quadriplegia Data & Statistics

  • 7800 paralyzing injuries in the US each year
  • Average age at injury is 33

SCARRING AND DISFIGUREMENT INJURY FAQs

What are disfigurement injuries?

Disfigurement is when a person’s appearance is affected due to a scar, burn, change in skin texture, or differently shaped body part.

What are some types of scarring and disfigurement injuries?

  • Burns, including fire and chemical
  • Derma- brasion
  • Fibromalasia
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
  • Road rash injuries
  • Surgery
  • Teeth, mouth, and jaw injuries
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)

In addition to physical scarring, many accidents can lead to the injured person coping with mental and emotional trauma. This includes diminished self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

What are some types of scarring and disfigurement injuries?

  • Burns, including fire and chemical
  • Derma- brasion
  • Fibromalasia
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
  • Road rash injuries
  • Surgery
  • Teeth, mouth, and jaw injuries
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS)

In addition to physical scarring, many accidents can lead to the injured person coping with mental and emotional trauma. This includes diminished self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

What types of scars can burn injuries cause?

  • Contracture: permanent tightening of the skin
  • Hypertrophic: limited to the site of the initial injury
  • Keloid: an overgrowth of scar tissue

What surgeries may be required for scar and disfigurement injuries?

Many accidents can occur that require extensive medical treatment for scarring and disfigurement. These include:

  • Plastic surgery
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Skin grafts
  • Surgical removal of scar tissue and adhesions

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What can cause scarring and disfigurement injuries?

  • Amputations
  • Animal attacks
  • Chemical Spills
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective roads
  • Electrocution
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Flammable fabrics
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Road hazards

What to do after an accident results in scarring or disfigurement?

First, the injured person must seek immediate medical attention after he or she has been a victim of an accident resulting in scars or disfigurement. After the injuries have been tended to, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced law firm.
The attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have decades of experiences working with our clients to assure that they are adequately compensated for any permanent scarring or disfigurement. If you or a loved one has suffered such an injury due to someone else’s negligence, please contact Swartz & Swartz, P.C. for a free consultation.

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What are scar injuries?

Burns and lacerations are serious injuries that can result in scarring or disfigurement, and may require extensive care. These, often permanent, injuries can be physically and emotionally challenging, as well as financially burdensome.

Scars remain after a wound closes and new skin grows over the injured area. A scar’s appearance will be affected by the type, location, size and severity of the injury, as well as the way the wound was treated.

SPINAL CORD INJURY FAQs

What is a spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord tissue is bruised, torn, or crushed. Such injuries can be caused by accidents, diseases, or medical disorders.

Spinal Cord Injury Data & Statistics

  • 400,000 Americans are living with spinal cord injuries.
  • 82% of spinal cord injuries are experienced by males.
  • Most spinal cord injuries occur between the ages of 16-30.

What are the common causes of spinal cord injuries?

  • Acts of violence
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Sports-related injuries, mostly diving accidents
  • Trampoline accidents

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What are the types of spinal cord injuries?

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Complete spinal cord injuries result in paraplegia or quadriplegia. This is a permanent loss of motor and nerve function at T1 level or below, which means that the person loses sensation and movement in the legs, bowel, bladder, and sexual region, while arms and hands retain normal function.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

Incomplete spinal cord injuries are categorized by some sensation and movement below the point of injury. The extent of an incomplete injury is usually determined when the spinal shock has subsided, which occurs six or eight weeks after an injury.

Incomplete spinal cord injuries have five categories:

  • Anterior cord syndrome
  • Brown-sequard syndrome
  • Causa equina lesion
  • Central cord syndrome
  • Posterior cord syndrome

What are the results of spinal cord injuries?

Due to spinal cord injuries, impulses do not flow through the damaged area, which cuts off information between the brain and certain parts of the body. Usually, the areas above the point of injury do not lose function, while the ones below will be impaired. The impairments may include:

  • Motor deficit
  • Sensory deficit
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction

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What are the levels of spinal cord injury?

The level of injury must be determined so that the doctor can assess which parts of the body will be affected. Levels of injury are classified as:

  • Neck
  • C-1 to C-4
  • C-5
  • C-6
  • C-7 and T-1
  • T-1 to T-8
  • T-9 to T-12

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

If the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, there may be no symptoms or there may be an ache in the lower back.

If the herniated disc is pressing on a nerve, there may be pain, numbness, or weakness including:

  • Tingling or numbness in one leg
  • Weakness in leg muscles
  • Pain in front of thigh
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control

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What are the types of herniated discs?

  • Lower back (lumbar) herniation due to pressure on the sciatic nerve. There may be pain from the buttocks and down the leg to the ankle or foot.
  • Upper lumbar spine herniation: Pain in the front of the thigh.
  • Neck (cervical spine) herniation: Pain or numbness in the shoulders, arms or chest.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY FAQs

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury is sudden physical damage to the brain which can be the result of a closed head injury, such as sudden impact, or a penetrating head injury, such as a bullet, or other material, penetrating the skull.

What can result from a traumatic brain injury?

  • Anteretrograde amnesia: inability to remember events at the onset of an injury.
  • Brain Contusion: a bruise under or opposite from the side of the impact which may cause swelling and neurological dysfunction
  • Brain Herniation: caused by intracranial pressure. This can cause the patient’s consciousness to deteriorate.
  • Changes in personality
  • Coma: state of unconsciousness from which patients cannot be awakened. These may last a few days or several years.
  • Concussion: a non-penetrating blow to the head. The early symptoms of a concussion are dizziness, loss of equilibrium, nausea, vomiting and headache.
  • Difficulty learning
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Difficulty talking
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Difficulty with mobility
  • Difficulty with sensations
  • Epidural Hematoma:  the collection o blood between the skull’s outer shell (dura) and the skull’s inner table.
  • Lack of attention span
  • Retrograde amneria: memory loss of events preceding an injury.
  • Skull Fracture: due to a large amount of force to the head. Symptoms include bleeding from the ear, bruising behind the ear, and dark eyes.
  • Subdural Hematoma: caused by the tearing of a bridging vein between the draining venous sinus and the cerebral cortex. This is often the result from whiplash.

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What are the common brain injury symptoms?

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Inappropriate emotional displays
  • Incoherent speech
  • Lack of attention span
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of interest
  • Nausea
  • Post-traumatic amnesia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Tearfulness
  • Trouble finding words
  • Vomiting

What causes a traumatic brain injury?

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Sports-related accidents
  • Violence

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Brain Injury Data & Statistics

  • 50%-70% of traumatic brain injuries result from car accidents.
  • 50,000 people die as a result of a brain injury each year in America.
  • Approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer from a brain injury each year.

How is a brain injury classified?

Severe brain injuries are classified as:

  • Persistent vegetative state
  • Severe disability
  • Moderate disability
  • Good recovery

Moderate brain injuries include loss of consciousness and findings like contusions or bleeding in the brain.

Mild brain injuries are often caused by car accidents and falls because the head is struck by an object, or it strikes an object.

How are brain injuries diagnosed?

There are various diagnostic tests used to determine the extent of a brain injury. These tests include:

  • CAT or CT Scan
  • EEG
  • fMRI Scan
  • MRI Scan
  • PET Scan
  • Psychological and functional tests
  • SPECT Scan

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What are the types of skull fractures?

  • Linear skull fracture: a simple straight break in the skull. Common in children. Can be caused by motor vehicle accidents.
  • Basilar skull fracture: fracture to the floor of the skull. Can be caused by severe head trauma.
  • Depressed skull fracture: Can be caused from impact by a blunt object which caused dents in the skull bone. If fracture is between ¼- ½ inch, it may require surgery to check for damage.
  • Subdural hematoma: bleeding between the brain tissue and the skull.
  • Epidural hematoma: can be caused by trauma to the temporal bone.
  • Intraparenchymal hemorrhage/cerebral contusion: bleeding into the brain tissue.

What is an acquired brain injury and what can cause it?

An acquired brain injury is one that occurs after birth. Common causes include:

  • Airway obstruction
  • Artery impingement
  • Blood loss
  • Chest crushing injuries
  • Choking
  • Electrical shock
  • Heart attack
  • Lightening strike
  • Near drowning
  • Shock
  • Stroke
  • Trauma to the head or neck

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